SEPTEMBER 28, 2013

Given that we are rapidly approaching the 50th anniversary of John f. Kennedy’s assassination, it’s interesting to watch PARKLAND, which recounts the day of the tragedy and the two days that follow.

We witness this from several people’s point of view, Abraham Zapruder, the man who shot the iconic footage; The FBI as they struggle with why they weren’t able to prevent this; Robert Oswald, as he comes to terms that his brother allegedly just killed the most famous man on Earth; and the staff of Parkland Hospital where Kennedy was taken by the secret service in a futile attempt to save his life.
The film is more a recounting of events than an actual story and what it lacks in narrative it makes up in fine performances and revelatory details that I was not aware of or hadn’t considered. Kudos to stand-out performances by Paul Giamatti as Zapruder who through fate, becomes one of the most important people in history but is never properly given the time to grieve for the loss of a man he greatly admired and James Badge Dale who is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors.

Dale plays the brother of Lee Harvey Oswald who not only must deal with how his life and the lives of his family has forever been altered, but also his self-absorbed mother who doesn’t seem to grasp the full weight of what her son has done. Robert’s pain and confusion is presented with such nuance that it is hard not to feel for him and care about how he’ll survive in a now uncertain future.
It’s a brisk film and certainly held my attention. Oliver Stone’s JFK is always going to be a hard act to follow, but PARKLAND makes a nice companion piece dealing with all the human tragedy and collateral damage instead of the conspiratorial aspects of the assassination.